A job loss can be devastating, emotionally, and financially. It can be hard to get back out there on the job market, but you have to if you hope to find a new position.
But, if it’s been a while since you’ve interviewed for jobs, your skills might be rusty. You might need some help updating your resume and writing cover letters, finding open positions that are a good fit, and navigating the hiring process through multiple rounds of interviews. To make your job search as short as possible, take time to plan your strategy after you’re laid off, take advantage of any outplacement assistance services your former company may offer, and take advantage of your network to learn about new opportunities or research companies you’re interested in.
Take a Second to Consider Your Next Move
A job loss can really leave you reeling, especially if it’s sudden. You can’t always see a layoff coming, although if you do, taking time to prepare can really help you hit the ground running if you are let go.
Once you are laid off, fight the urge to rush home and fire off a volley of applications to every single job that’s hiring. Instead, focus first on getting the severance you’re due — try to negotiate for at least a week’s pay for every year of service, plus any money you’re owed for accrued vacation time and sick days that you haven’t used and any bonuses that you might have coming to you. Ask about continuing your health insurance benefits through COBRA and rolling over your 401(k) to your new employer. Once you’ve been laid off, apply for unemployment immediately, even if you get severance — don’t lie about the severance, but don’t wait until your money runs out to apply either. You might find that you no longer qualify.
Take a week or so to apply for unemployment, rework your household budget to account for a reduction in income, and consider what your next career move will be. A job loss can often turn out to be a blessing in disguise for your career, freeing you up to advance into a better job with higher pay and better benefits. But first, you have to consider what kinds of jobs you’ll apply for. Maybe you were happy with your field and there are lots of other open positions in that field in your area, so you’ll stick with it. Maybe you’re ready for a career change and need to consider whether to go back to school, obtain some kind of certificate or training, or just spin your transferable skills into landing a different kind of role altogether. Maybe you’re happy with your field, but know you’ll need to move to another city to find a new position or move up the ladder, and need to consider those options.
By taking the time to plan your next move, you can be sure you’re applying to jobs you actually want, as well as positions that suit your qualifications and experience. You’ll save time by being selective about the jobs you apply for, and you’ll find a position more quickly, too.
Use Any Outplacement Services You’re Offered
Most employers of choice these days offer their laid off employees outplacement services to help them find new jobs quickly. It’s in the company’s best interest to keep laid off former employees happy and focused on moving on, rather than slandering the company online or even suing for wrongful termination. And these services can be valuable — you can get help updating your resume, drafting cover letters tailored for different positions, and even finding good jobs to apply to. Career coaching is available to help you tailor your materials and interviewing strategy to the kinds of positions you’re interested in. They can even offer post-interview counseling, access to additional job skills training, and exclusive access to jobs that you might not be able to find out about on your own.
Reach Out to Your Network
Most people still find jobs through referrals, so reach out to your network to discover employment opportunities in your field. Don’t just ask others in your field if they know of any open positions you’d be a good fit for — you may know people who work at the companies you’re interested in, in completely different capacities, and those people can be a good source of inside information about a company’s culture and what it’s like to work there. They might also be aware of opportunities that you wouldn’t think of yourself, or be willing to give you a good reference when you apply.
When you get laid off, your priority is typically to find a new job right away. You can do a lot to shorten the job search, especially if your former company offers outplacement services. Even if they don’t, it’s worth meeting with a career counselor to get some feedback on your materials and interview skills. It’ll all be worth it when you land a great new position.